Saturday, August 22, 2009

We have a saying around here, "Get used to it, Hitler."

Please bear with me. This is the drunkest I've been while writing one of these, thanks to Sobieski Vodka. I bought it blindly, because I figured the name wouldn't steer me wrong. This summer, Leelee Sobieski went from being a pretty alien to a pretty human being with her appearance in Public Enemies, and I figured this vodka would equally surprise me. And guess what? It did. This $11 bottle is pretty damn good. Definitely a shitload of bang for a modicum of buck. I recommend it heartily, especially in this current economy.

Anyway, people have already made up theories about the spelling of Quentin Tarantino's latest joint, Inglourious Basterds. Some say it's a way for QT to distinguish his film from the original Bo Svenson/Fred Williamson flick, The Inglorious Bastards. Others say it was to get by the MPAA (you telling me these motherfuckers approve movie titles too?!). Then there's those who bring up that Brad Pitt's character has it written that way into the butt of his rifle. I believe the best explanation is in a book titled Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher. In it, she puts up a copy of a letter QT had handwritten to her, and boy is it some FUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNY shit. THAT is the reason the title's spelled that way, and since Tarantino admitted in a recent interview that no one in the cast or crew ever questioned his spelling just shows to go you that this emperor's new clothes is lookin' mighty fine these days.

But he can misspell all the fuckin' words he wants if he continues to create quality flicks like this one. Shit, he can go retroactively retitling his previous works if he wants: Rezurvwhar Dawhgs, Poulp Fickshun, Jahkey Brauwn, Kill Bill. Also, I knew I was into something good when the movie started off with an old circa 70's/80's Universal logo, like Sam Raimi did with Drag Me to Hell, but unlike that movie, I didn't have two old hens talking throughout the movie and I liked this one a hell of a lot more. (Sorry, Sam. Please don't send the Lamia after me.)

So yeah, Brad Pitt leads a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a Nazi killing spree, I want my scalps! and all that. That's what the trailers and commercials are selling you. But don't expect it to be a men-on-a-mission movie consisting of nothing but Pitt & Company going around and kicking National Socialist ass. It's really two parallel stories; one following the exploits of the Basterds, and the other involving a young French Jew working at a Parisian movie theater. It's the second tale that gets more of the screen time, and there's a lot of subtitles, so those of you who can't hang with that can take that shit over to G.I. Joe right now.

This movie's about two-and-a-half hours long, but it moved pretty damn fast to me. I'm sure I'm in the minority, because lots of people are bitching about the dialogue. They're right in that this is a dialogue-heavy film, supposedly some talking sequences go as long as 25-30 minutes. There's a lot more BLAH BLAH BLAH than BANG BANG BANG going on here, but you know what? I didn't mind at all because I liked the dialogue. It kept me interested. These people seemed to have forgotten a little movie two years ago called Death Proof. Now THAT has a lot of talking that makes you wonder if any of it is going to pay off. With Death Proof, the majority of the chatter felt like filler (albeit entertaining filler), whereas the dialogue in Basterds feels like Quentin playing with the audience, stretching it out and making us wait longer and longer before what's got to be the payoff happens. And just when we reach our breaking point and are pulling our hair out at the possibility of what might happen, holy shit, does the payoff pay the fuck off.

Part of the plot involves a film-within-a-film called Nation's Pride, a Nazi propaganda film about a national war hero by the name of Frederick Zoller who sniped a bunch of American soldiers from a belltower. This movie ends up being screened for a bunch of high-ranking Nazis, and they laugh and cheer their uncircumsized dicks off every time Zoller busts a cap in some red, white and blue ass. I wondered if Tarantino was pulling some "holding a mirror to society" bullshit with that? I mean, I know he's all about making kick-ass movies to have fun with and nothing more, but the audience I saw this with was doing the same shit whenever a fuckin' Nazi got owned, cheering and laughing, myself included. Hopefully that's more like QT saying that his shit is as propaganderous as the shit these Nazis were watching. By the way, if Tarantino can misspell his movie titles, I can make up words like propaganderous, all right? So callate la boca.

I wish I never heard that Quentin had at one point considered doing this as a mini-series for cable, like Band of Brothers, telling various stories during the period of the main events. Because as much as this movie kicked ass, I think we would've gotten a lot more kick-ass stuff out of a really extended version of this. He was seriously thinking of doing it this way until fuckin' Luc Besson talked him out of it. He told him that Tarantino was one of the only filmmakers that made him want to go see a movie in a theater. This fuckin' bastard -- I mean, basterd -- he should've just shut his fuckin' Frenchy mouth and concentrated on writing & producing more movies about Liam Neeson and Jason Statham owning motherfuckers. We could've had 12 hours of this, which is blessing to people like me and a curse for everyone else, I suppose.

The acting, like in all of Tarantino's flicks, is top-notch. Pitt is playing a dude from Tennessee, and he knows what kind of movie he's in so he doesn't go for realism, he goes for exaggerated when it comes to his accent and mannerisms. The French chick is played by someone named Melanie Laurent, and she does a decent job but nothing spectacular. I'll give her this, though, in fact I'll give everyone else this -- these have to be some great fuckin' actors to be able to hold their own whenever they're in a scene with the motherfucker who plays Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), and while this isn't an Oscar-caliber film, he gives an Oscar-caliber performance.

Col. Landa is known as The Jew Hunter, and that's just what he does, looking for any and all Jews hidden throughout France. What makes him even scarier is that he does it all in as charming a manner as possible. Here's a man who will do everything he can to make you feel at ease before dropping the big one on you, a man who will convince you to give up the goods, leaving you in tears because you just fucking KNOW you're doing the wrong thing, but this guy is such a smooth smoothie, it's like you have no choice but to give up control of the situation. Landa must've gotten ALL the anti-Semitic pussy back in the day.

Mike Myers shows up here for one scene, and his appearance reminded me of a story I heard about something that happened during a test screening of John Milius' Flight of the Intruder. Ed O'Neill had an important role in it, but everybody fuckin' laughed because all they could think of at the moment was "Holy shit, it's Al Bundy!". So they had to reshoot it with another actor. I'm reminded of this because no one in the audience at the showing I went to could stop laughing for the entirety of Myers' scene. The problem could also be that while guys like Pitt and the English motherfucker who plays Hicox were able to toe the line between Over the Top and Bloody Ridiculous, Myers unfortunately could not. This guy is playing his part like a character in the next Austin Powers movie. Actually, he's playing it like his idol, Peter Sellers, who I'm sorry to say, had the habit of hamming it up even in his best work.

A couple of times Samuel L. Jackson's voice comes out of nowhere to narrate this flick. I thought that was pretty awesome, not because it was Jackson, but because there wasn't a real rhyme or reason to the use of narration here. Like the occasional use of narration in a Argento flick, you're listening to it and wondering if it was even fuckin' needed, but you kinda appreciate the wacky need of the director to include it, for whatever fuckin' reason. Harvey Keitel's voice is also heard late in the film, as a general or something, and that was cool. Speaking of which, go watch Keitel's interview in that From Dusk Till Dawn documentary for some good times.

Eli Roth has a big role in this, but I've gone on way too long about the actors already, so he gets assed out in my ramblings. Sorry, pal. Go make Hostel Part III and see if I give a shit.

Ennio Morricone is my favorite movie music composer, and I was happy to hear that Tarantino was going to get him to come up with some original music for this film. Then he fucked it all up when he decided that it was more important to have his movie ready for Cannes rather than give Morricone another couple of months to do his thing. It was more important to have his shit premiere in the country that "respects directors" and get his knob polished by the Cannes critics than to have what could've been the next great Morricone score complementing his movie. And in the end, what happened? The Cannes critics reacted to his opus with an unenthusiastic "eh". Ha ha ha, motherfuck.

But he made up for it (kinda) by using a bunch of Morricone's old stuff for the film score instead. It was fun to pick out the stuff I recognized from the tracks that I couldn't. The best track is from a Sergio Sollima film called Revolver, a sad little tune that is used here for an equally fucked up moment. It made my geek muscle twinge a little to hear a tune I once heard from a shitty television speaker now play in Dolby Digital to a huge auditorium. There's non-Morricone tracks here as well; my buddy was distracted by the use of a David Bowie tune, but that one didn't get me so much as the use of music from The Entity did at one point. Once I heard that, all I could think of was poor Barbara Hershey getting ghost raped.

I've only seen this once, so maybe it's too early to tell, but so far, Basterds felt like a better movie than both Kill Bill and Death Proof and I was a fan of both. I can't understand where the critics are coming from with this, they keep saying that it's not the sum of all it's parts, which is a bullshit thing to say, by the way. It's a film comprised of great scenes that don't fit together well? Shit, that's why Tarantino put chapter headings in this bitch. Anyway, I'm not really one for multiple cinema viewings, but I just might have to go see this one again to make sure. As of now, I'm saying Inglourious Basterds was a great fuckin' movie (made by a horrible fuckin' speller) and I am fucking drunk and hungry like a motherfucker. (How hungry is a motherfucker, by the way?)

P.S. You know what else came out this weekend? Shorts. That was written and directed by Tarantino's hetero life-mate, Robert Rodriguez. I'm a big fan of Rodriguez, but I don't think I could bring myself to buy a ticket to that shit, William H. Macy or not. Besides, the theater will be filled with kids and all the parents will look at me like I'm some kinda fuckin' pedo creep. They would be half right.

P.P.S. In case you were wondering -- Yup, Quentin works in his foot fetish in this movie as well. If I ever make a movie, every chick is going to wear glasses. Please believe that.